Travelling on your own I think gives you more opportunities to interact with the locals. Often as a couple you tend to be less aware of what is happening around you. When I used to accompany the OH to conferences I was on my own for a lot of the time and left to my own devices as he was busy with the actual conference. Public transport was one thing I always looked up wherever we went so that I could get around, especially in the big cities where these type of conferences are usually held, and more often than not in hotels outside of the central walking district.
Sometimes I can’t help eavesdropping whilst travelling.
San Diego: No 30 bus from Old Town Transit Center to La Jolla
Young girl, jeans, hippy top, typical scarf wrapped around her neck, several strands of necklaces, long blonde hair and carrying a backpack gets on the bus to Oceanside. She politely asks an older American guy where she gets off for the ¹Banana Bungalow. He suggests she is better off staying in the hostel in downtown SD.
“I just came from there, my friend is staying in the banana bungalow and I’ve heard some good things about it”
“Well, I hope you’ll be safe then”
“Safe? You hope I’ll be safe? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, you know, it’s in a dodgy area. There’s drug taking and dope smoking, marijuana, you know, but if that’s what you want…”
“No! I’m English!” she cries indignantly in a very plummy voice.
He kindly offers to show her the way when they alight the bus on the corner of Mission Boulevard. I am left smiling.
¹A Pacific Beach hostel
Same bus, return journey.
A youngish chap gets on and sits facing me on the side seats. He is trendily dressed in black jeans, a black shirt, dark grey jacket, narrow indigo blue tie and is wearing black nail varnish, silver earring in one ear. He is busily marking some exercise books on his lap. Next stop a scruffy younger guy gets on and sits next to him. He has long curly, unruly hair, a cap, messy beard and smells strongly of cigarettes.
“Hey dude, you a paralegal or something?”
“No, I am a lecturer”
“Oh, that must be so cool. To be responsible for opening minds and see students discovering stuff and learning stuff”
A wry smile. “Well yeah, that sometimes happens”
“All that finding out stuff”
“Actually I find out new things from them all the time too”
“Great, man. You’re learning, they’re learning, that’s so cool man”
Once again I am smiling.